King Abdullah II of Jordan appointed on Wednesday experienced diplomat and palace aide Bisher al-Khasawneh as the country’s new prime minister, replacing Omar al-Razzaz, who resigned earlier this month. Khasawneh, who was a leader in peace negotiations with Israel, will be tasked with forming a cabinet responsible for managing the country. The king wrote in a letter appointing the new prime minister, “This process of cabinet formation comes during exceptional circumstances,” referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “To me, citizens’ health and well-being have been and always will be the topmost priority, which demand that the government continue to take all carefully studied measures … in a manner that balances health care considerations with operating economic sectors and safeguarding citizens’ livelihoods.” Jordan is currently facing a wave of COVID-19 infections and emergency laws enacted earlier this year to deal with the pandemic have caused economic conditions to worsen. Jordan’s unemployment rose to 23% in Q2 2020 and the country’s economy is expected to sink by 6% this year.
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